Director Comey departed from these guidelines in the Clinton investigation, rationalizing that the probe was a matter of great public concern. But many criminal investigations are matters of great public concern. That doesn’t mean law enforcement holds press conferences to outline the evidence that has not resulted in the filing of criminal charges. Since Americans are presumed innocent in our system, there is no reason to clear them publicly. They are “cleared” by the happenstance that they are not charged.
And now we see the fallout of bending the rules: you end up having to keep bending them. Because Comey went public when he did not have to, he created an expectation – perhaps even an obligation, which is certainly how he sees it – that if circumstances changed, he would have to amend or supplement the record.
As a result, everyone is up in arms: the people (like moi) who believe there was more than enough evidence to indict are upset by the lack of charges and breaks given to the politically connected that no one else would get; and now the Clinton supporters who breathed an undeserved sigh of relief in July when the case was “closed” (something they had no right to know) are upset that the case is not closed – with all the innuendo its “reopening” entails.
The rules of law-enforcement discretion are hard to follow when the public, the Congress, and the media are clamoring for information. But the rules are there for a reason.